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WeekenderSteve

The Weekend Railway

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Hi Steve, wow you are doing well, have you measured the length of track to scale length and how long does it take for a train to run around the layout.

My layout will be 55ft long when finished, haven't worked out the width, is about 35feet wide first stage, moving slowly ahead on my layout, reusing the old module legs joining them together for frame work on the modules in the car port end .

Be a good day out on the layout construction today but going out later, buggers up the whole day, raining here expected to get over 80mm today, local flooding.

How did you go with the new camera buy it, they are pretty cheap now depends what you want can pay more for the better ones.

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In post 201 the trackbed had been laid for another reversing spur, before I got distracted by spotting an opportunity I'd missed to squeeze a line behind a tree a little bit further back. With that deviation complete, track laid and clearances checked, the railhead could push on downwards again. In fact, I skipped ahead a little to get the reversing point in place, to give me something to work up to. So here's the new reversing point and spur beyond, with track laid:

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This shows how far below the original ground level this end of the reversing spur is (again); the original line of the bottom board of the Fence can be seen top left, behind the leaves of the oak seedling - about 4 inches above rail level. The little oak's almost directly beneath the curved reversing point that leads to the avalanche-shelter station. I'll try and encourage it to grow up the far side of the timber above it, though I suspect it might have other ideas. It seems already to have a mind of its own: it doesn't believe it's deciduous, it's still got all three leaves as I write this, near the end of January. I presume it knows what it's doing. Anyway, you can see the lexan's nailed to the trackbed, so once the photo was taken I could put some of the soil back. You can also see that access to unpin the spur and realign it without causing damage would be somewhat challenging.

Speaking of the line above, whilst doing the present work I spotted some fairly extensive fungus growth around the Tree 9 tunnel and cutting:

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And then remove the now-redundant never-used Level I trackbed across the front of Tree 5.

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And with that, it was time for a wagoncam run, as a check on alignment. This one starts facing uphill from those new buffers, and climbs all five (five!) zigzags of the branch line, up to the line along Grumpy's offside. The slightly awkward alignment of the latest reversing point is apparent, but given the slight curvature in the Fence there, I don't think a lot else can be done. The change in gradient makes it look even worse, of course. As you'll see from the video, the station canopy's not working as well as it might, either. You'll also note an odd purring noise at the end of the video: that's the sound of minicam's battery running low. The video stops where it does because that's where the battery ran out.

 
So I put the camera on charge that evening, and rather ambitiously tried a full run from the yard at the top right down to the bottom the next day, facing the other way. Speeds are a little higher than usual, as the train raced the camera battery to the buffers. As you'll see, it was a close finish...
 

Just over 9 minutes from top to bottom, but hurrying a bit for the first part. Maybe a 12-minute run would have looked more realistic, but the camera wouldn't have lasted the distance. That was very lucky!

Next time, some more videos, with more variation in viewpoint, subject matter and success.

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Very impressive and getting more impressive by the post. When do you plan to start ballasting it?

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bonkers! Still makes me smile.

So many questions... but the most pressing one is how long does it take you to clean the track?

And are all the sections bonded to a power-bus?

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How long does it take to clean the track? Too long! Ten minutes, perhaps, as long as you can remember the right contortions to reach bits of it. I use a garryflex block; nothing else seems to do the job properly. It's probably not doing the railhead any good, but if it's the only thing I've found that'll cut through the grot and permit trains to run, then so be it.

Power bus? Optimist! Nope, at the moment rails are joined by Peco fishplates and nothing else. So far (fingers crossed) they've done remarkably well - we've never had a problem with a non-conducting joint. I make a point of ensuring that they're tight when they're fitted, so I suppose as the rails expand and contract there's quite a firm rubbing motion, and that seems to have kept the joints clean so far. If you're using the top four levels as a single circuit with power supplied in just one location you can find you need to apply a bit more power when the train's at its furthest, but that top loop's about 155' feet around so I suppose that's not too bad. For running a train from the highest to the lowest parts of the layout it's worth supplying power at couple of locations, but that's all. What it'll be like after another Winter is anybody's guess of course, but so far it looks as though the fishplate-based electrical connexions are outliving the trackbed!

Speaking of running trains all the way from the top to the bottom....

...If the railhead was to advance further, it needed more trackbed, and more trackbed means more timber, and more woodscrews. The timbers are rather too large to transport by train, but woodscrews seemed a good excuse to run a 'works' train all the way from the yard to the end of the zigzag branch - and to provide some work for the Dean Goods. So a train comprising every open wagon we could find - and never mind what they said on the side! - was marshalled and loaded:

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But by that time the blasted camera battery had gone flat anyway, so that was the end of that plan. Here's the video while it lasted:

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So the camera went on charge indoors, allowing tea-and-thinking time.

Without the camera wagon, of course, the train was now short enough to fit the reversing spurs, so it could continue down the branch. In a revised plan, the partly-recharged camera would be mounted, statically, to record the train passing. Here it is on its way to the lowest reversing point.

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Only trouble is, with all the faffing, tea-making, thinking, shunting and camera-charging, by the time the train reached the worksite, all the navvies had packed up for the day and gone home! So all that remained was to put the Dean's 6wd tender to a real test, and see if it could get that heavy train back up the branch. Here's the first zigzag on that climb:

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I reckon that's not bad at all, up a 1:60 gradient. It couldn't last of course; wagon couplings started trying to ride over each other, and it all got a bit fraught, so in the end there was no option but to split the train and send the one-whistle Pannier down to bring up one half, while the Dean followed later with the other. It all worked, in the end, but even the half-trains were heavy enough to reveal that one location had a gradient problem: the immediate approaches to the reversing point nearest the lifting bridge hinges are too steep. Not by much, but enough to show up with trains this heavy.

Something must've gone wrong in the measuring and construction of the timbers in that area. Maybe I was concentrating too much on making the bridge hinge mounts strong enough, maybe I just made a marking error; but whatever went wrong affects both trackbeds - they just diverge too sharply from the point location. If one was too steep and the other rather shallow, then the error could be corrected simply by raising or lowering the reversing point appropriately; but with both lines too steep, it's not an easy fix. The only solution is reconstruction of the trackbed, with longer approaches to the point - that is, the point needs to be moved further from the lifting bridge.

Well, I said when that reversing spur was built (post 172) that it was only a temporary thing. Looks like it's time to prove it.

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I said at the end of the last post that I discovered the gradients into and out of the reversing point by the lifting bridge hinges were a bit too steep, and the only fix would be to move that point further away from the bridge hinges, thereby lengthening the approaches. It would've been relatively simple just to shift that point and the reversing spur a bit further to the right - towards the stub fence - but it would still have been just a rather stark straight section across the front of the trees. And why go in front of trees if you can go behind them? There's a gap, albeit not much of one, behind the nearest tree, so that became the objective: move the reversing point into the gap behind the tree, and lengthen its approach roads at the same time. I reckoned I needed the approaches to be about another 8 inches longer, and a bit of work with a dummy trackbed and a Peco point plan suggested that should be quite possible, perhaps even a little more. This photo shows the start of the new trackbed leading behind the tree, and the existing reversing point and spur still in front of it:

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With the toe of a curved point tucked behind the tree, that all seemed to work, and gave the extra approach length needed to ease the gradients. It was clear the tree and the fencepost would have to be relieved a bit to get the necessary running clearances, so I thought I might as well cut a little a litle deeper to allow the point to be pushed back a bit further:

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And then I could cut the plywood to the required shape. The whole thing's in one piece, slotted between the roads, so that the gradient changes near the point will be smoothed out. It has to extend a long way towards the lifting bridge, right over the old trackbeds, because that's where the old gradient got too steep:

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I say more-or-less, because in that photo the curvature in the lower road doesn't look quite right as it approaches the point. The other one looks a bit questionable too, but that's largely the change of grade I think - like all the other reversing points and spurs now, the gradient of spur and point matches that of the lower approach; that is, the spur is uphill towards its buffers. Speaking of which:

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What a lot of work you've done, Steve. Much appreciate your detailed descriptions which keep the record clear. And it's nice to see the Dean Goods hauling a works train. I really like your tree trunk nail buffers - looking like something out of that childhood magic railway fantasy story The Forest of Boland Light Railway.

Your move to real timber for the base should pay dividends in the short run as you'll probably find it much more stable than the OSB. I'm wondering if there's a risk that you're moving towards longer term thinking. Although I missed any direct reference, the phrase "now-dry plywood" at one point seems to suggest a possible use of timber preservative. Let's hope this means your railway will last through a fair few winters yet. Well done, and keep up the good work - and the entertainment.

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Hi Steve, you sure are moving along nicely, as well I like your tree nail buffers, have to are what Andrew is saying pretty awesome, haven't watched the video clips. they will e good.

Saw a doc on a SBS link on the net last night was very awesome, called SBS on Demand : walking through history by Tony Roberson, he also was in Time Team.

The doco was on North Norfolk a banded branch line, end of the line was the Royal estate of Sandringham, I have the link if you are interested for Andrew as well, amazing what you can see on the net, good programme if you miss watching it on TV.

Tony

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(This started out as a response to recent remarks, but it grew into a random blend of stream-of-consciousness and discussion document. Ah well, it can stay. Maybe someone will be dedicated enough to read it. No pictures in this one, unfortunately.)

I hadn't heard of the Forest of Boland Light Railway before. Might have to try & find a copy. I have to say that there seem to be remarkable parallels between the Weekend Railway and the Driving Creek Railway which Roy mentioned under 'Real Railways' some time ago http://www.oogardenrailway.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=56&t=894" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;. The railway's website http://www.drivingcreekrailway.co.nz/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; is well worth a look, especially the 'train ride' page. Click the start button and watch the pictures above. Very Weekendish.

A drawback of all the WR's zigzags is that they're only really suitable (and long enough) for push-pull trains. The Dean Goods 'works' train was a good excuse to bend the rules a bit, but the fact remains that it's a very specialised branch, and there's no real solution to that - there just isn't space for more spiral curves.

OSB & longer-term thinking? Hmm. As those who've read the early pages will know, the initial build was done entirely with materials that were already to hand - the only new purchase was the track, everything else was leftovers from other projects, mainly the Shed and Fence, and the stock of random timber left here by the previous owner. Most of those timbers were long and straight (ish), the only flat bits we had were the OSB leftovers, so that’s what we used where a bit more width was needed. Didn't really think about longevity, as the WR was only supposed to be a short-term project. The original 'express' circuit was only in place for a fortnight, and I think the rest wouldn't (shouldn't) have lasted a lot longer, except that I found it unexpectedly useful to have a legislatively-unburdened but immersive outdoor project that Summer. So it grew. And then we had a mild Winter, so it survived, and by then I'd thought of some other silly things to try, so it grew some more, and now we've had another mild Winter (so far) and thus it still survives. And I keep thinking of more things I could try.

The speed at which the OSB has degraded, compared to the (very!) ordinary timber used for most of the original trackbed, is a pain though. If the whole lot had fallen apart equally quickly it would be less of a problem, but manky old offcuts that have been laying outside for over 20 years seem remarkably resilient. Which is why recently, when a larger flat piece has been needed, ply has been used. Secondhand scrap ply, of course, but ply nonetheless. Unlike the OSB and most of the other timber, it's not pressure-treated, so it's been given a coat or two of something creosotey to delay fungus growth at least until after the tracks have been laid.

But I don't ever intend the WR to become a 'permanent' installation. It'll stay where it is until it's in the way (as the express circuit was), or it falls down. That of course begs the question, how much of it needs to fall down? One or two mild depredations might as well be fixed (as they were at the start of last year), but if significant parts were lost, I can't imagine they'd ever be replaced like-with-like. That's part of the reason for not introducing masonry, scenery, complex wiring and so on: the more effort that's gone in, the more damage it's likely to be 'worth' repairing. I've already got enough cars in that category, the railway doesn't need to join them.

Until then, I suspect it will continue to evolve, but that depends how much time is available. Maintenance demands elsewhere were relatively light last year, but at the moment I've already got an experimental gearbox rebuild and a couple of reasonably challenging welding jobs on the list, and since an inactive car is still wearing out its MoT, tax disc and insurance policy just sitting there, those will take priority.

That doesn't stop me having ideas for further developments, unfortunately. At the moment, the zigzag branch ends part-way along 'level J.' With one further reverse, I think I could get a line into the air intake under Grumpy's front bumper. Don't ask why, or where it'd go next though, and yes it would need another lifting bridge underneath the first one. Or maybe that line could stay by the trees and reverse again (or more) until it approaches ground level - but again, there's no plan after that. A very low level might permit a Dorking-style contour-following line on the slope in front of the lower-numbered trees, but it still won't go anywhere. The 'flat' part of the garden isn't level enough for a ground-level express circuit, and in any case it would be a hazard to vehicle movements. If there's to be an express circuit again, it might as well be at eye height, as the original was - you get a more realistic view of the trains that way. The 'missing link' across the middle of the garden would have to be recreated as an easily-removable section, but that's not impossible. Twin-tracking would be good, trains always look good passing each other on sweeping curves at realistic track centres. When the stub fence was rebuilt last year as a multi-folding gate, the height of the 'castle door bar' that locks it extended was specifically chosen so that it could support the (lift-off) trackbed of part of a new express circuit. Building such a circuit in such a way that large sections were removable but trains would run reliably would be a challenge, and as you might have noticed, interesting challenges seem to motivate most developments here. So it’s got that in its favour!

The other obvious challenge would be replacing the OSB bases of the return curves at each end of the two tree circuits. The OSB was originally 18mm, so a stepped lamination of two layers of 9mm ply would keep down the size of the boards required, whilst still fitting in with the existing supporting structure and approach gradients. I reckon the radius of Upper Grumpy Curve could be eased slightly, which would help with the gradients there, and the associated reversing triangle could be revised - as it would need to be, if it was to form part of a new express circuit (though there’s another idea associated with that, which would require some hand-built pointwork. ChrisC reckons he can do that sort of thing...). A reconstituted express circuit would need new shed door drawbridges too of course, but the one on the big Shed is on the point of collapse now anyway, the main timber is rotting.

Or maybe something else will come up. Way back in post 52 Brian (sykarost) suggested a wind-driven alternator to charge a battery to power the trains; I fear a windmill big enough to drive the alternator fast enough might be a challenge, but if it could be made to work, I've got an old slightly leaky 12V waterpump, so perhaps we could have a wind-driven water feature....

All suggestions gratefully received. I won't promise to do anything about any of them, but it's always interesting to hear them. As Griff notes, it's all just a bit of fun, so you never know what might happen next. I don't.

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Hi Steve, A year on, and I'm still checking for updates on your "temporary" layout. Do you have anything to report?

Having just re-read some of your posts, a thought occurred to me.

In your post of 19th January, 2015, 8:19 pm (couldn't find a post number), you wrote about reaching a point where you had to excavate below ground level. I'm really looking forward to reading about an underground extension to your project!!

Cheers, Brian

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